North Miami’s newest City Manager will appropriately begin his tenure just in time for spring cleaning.
As a public service, I thought I’d help out Larry Spring by bringing him up to speed about the problems in the police department, and by giving him some helpful suggestions on how to handle them.
For starters, the number one problem in the police department is the Chief himself, Leonard Burgess.
Everyone knows that an organization is only as effective as its leadership. In North Miami’s case, the entire police department is in such disarray, and morale is so low, it’s way past time to clean house.
Chief Lenny has been mismanaging the North Miami Police Department almost from the beginning of his tenure. His promotion to Chief on June 4, 2014 was hailed as a brand new era in leadership and accountability of a department that had been plagued for years with the stench of corruption, racism, nepotism and general dysfunction.
Unfortunately, under Chief Lenny’s “leadership,” it’s only gotten worse.
The first signs of trouble emerged during the November, 2014 special election for mayor after Lucie Tondreau was arrested and ousted from office.
Even though city employees are prohibited from campaigning while on duty, it was no secret that Burgess and his hand-picked cronies in the Command Staff were actively supporting candidate Kevin Burns and surreptitiously working against his opponent, Dr. Smith Joseph.
You may recall that Kevin had been driving around town in a campaign fire truck with a city issued temporary tag for months, yet no one at the police department cited him. He lost the election, but oddly, this past Christmas season this same fire truck affixed with the same city issued temporary tag was spotted at Kevin’s Christmas tree lot.
To this day, no one knows who owns this truck, how Kevin got it, or which North Miami employee gave him the license tag.
Trust me. It just didn’t fall from the sky.
It’s bad enough that the truck has never been properly licensed with the State of Florida, but that’s Kevin’s problem if the DHSMV ever catches up with him.
However, there is no reason for a private citizen to be in possession of public property at all, much less a city issued license plate.
City Manager Larry Spring should investigate this mystery, get the license tag back from Kevin, and then fire whoever was responsible for giving it to him in the first place.
Secondly, Chief Lenny has also not been held accountable for keeping a “bad cop” on the department, especially in light of the potential harm he presents to the community at large.
Officer Jodlyn Antoine has been a problem child since the day he was hired on July 26, 2004. He has since been the subject of four internal affairs investigations.
Before he even arrived in North Miami, Antoine was written up seven times by his former employer, the Village of Biscayne Park Police Department. For some reason, the North Miami Police Department took him on despite his checkered past.
Prior to his stint at Biscayne Park, Antoine was employed by the City of Lauderhill. Although he left Lauderhill under odd circumstances (“I did not feel too comfortable working for this department due to the differences between Dade and Broward Counties,” according to his personnel record), there is no history of misbehavior in that city. Then again, he only worked for the Lauderhill Police Department for a grand total of three months. He didn’t have much time to screw up.
Two of Antoine’s internal affairs investigations had to do with his illegally accessing the official police database (D.A.V.I.D.) for non-official business. Cops all over the country get fired routinely for abusing the police database, most recently a sergeant in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, as the Sun Sentinel reported on Friday. Antoine got a slap on the wrist. And then did it again.
All four internal affairs investigations involved sexual harassment and/or stalking of women. One of them resulted in Antoine being given eight months of PAID administrative leave to the tune of more than $31,000.00, courtesy of North Miami taxpayers.
And yet, despite a recommendation of termination by Officer Antoine’s own chain of command, Chief Lenny still refused to fire him.
I summarized Antoine’s record in a blog post on September 29, 2015:
During the course of his employment as a North Miami Police Officer, Jodlyn Antoine violated:
- North Miami Police Department Standard Operation Procedures regarding the use of computers TWICE!
- North Miami Police Department Rules and Regulations regarding conduct unbecoming TWICE!
- Civil Service Rules regarding competence and efficiency in the performance of his duties FOUR TIMES!
- He committed a bunch of egregious violations of these and other rules and regulations a grand total of SEVEN TIMES!
As punishment for all these violations, Officer Antoine received two Written Reprimands, one 8-Hour Suspension, one 24-Hour Suspension, one 1-Month Suspension, and (thanks to an incomplete public record) one Unknown-At-This-Time Discipline.
In any other police department, this cop would have been long gone.
In Chief Lenny’s North Miami Police Department, this type of behavior is completely acceptable. Officer Jodlyn Antoine is still patrolling the streets of North Miami and it’s still business as usual.
The fourth, and most recent, internal affairs investigation against Officer Antoine was initiated when a resident complained that Antoine sexually harassed his girlfriend after a call to their home. Under advice from his attorney, the complainant did not interview with the internal affairs investigator. Because no witness would be interviewed, the internal affairs investigation was closed.
However, if Chief Lenny thinks this latest scandal is going away any time soon, he’s sadly mistaken.
While the Antoine problem will probably be the biggest headache the new city manager will have to deal with in the near future, that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chief Leonard Burgess.
Time and time again, Chief Lenny has proven himself to be completely unqualified to be the Chief of Police of the sixth largest municipality in Miami-Dade County.
Like the time that Chief Lenny flat out lied that he was never investigated for charges of sexual harassment.
And then there’s the time that Chief Lenny vindictively punished veteran police officers because he was paranoid that they were “leaking” information to the press.
And then there’s the time that a dispatcher in Chief Lenny’s police department made death threats over the phone while on duty.
And then there’s the time that Chief Lenny’s dispatchers completely bungled a call by the son of a resident who feared his mother was having a heart attack. Chief Lenny falsely blamed it on Miami-Dade County dispatchers, and then stuck to his guns when caught in yet another lie.
And then there’s the time that this same dispatch office ignored a man who walked into the police department with a gun he found, attempted to turn it in, and then left it in the lobby – bullets and all – after he was put on hold by dispatchers for more ten minutes. The gun remained unattended for over five hours!
And then there’s the time that he refused to alert residents in Keystone Point that there had been an armed home invasion in the area. After the distraught victim notified his neighbors … and the media, Chief Lenny responded with a Walk & Talk and a distribution of brochures.
The investigation of that armed home invasion also revealed a failure of the security cameras, for which Keystone Point residents pay extra in taxes. In response to resident outrage, Chief Lenny of course, blamed the County.
Let’s not also forget how Chief Lenny continues to blatantly discriminate against the man infinitely more qualified to be the top cop, Assistant Chief Gary Eugene. Chief Lenny stubbornly resisted promoting Eugene in the first place, and he still refuses to pay Eugene a salary equal to his other Assistant Chief.
You know. The one who’s not Haitian.
While Chief Lenny fiddles, North Miami is burning. Under Lenny’s watch, there are robberies, assaults, rapes, shootings and murders in the city almost every day.
Despite Chief Lenny’s claim that North Miami’s crime rate is the same as Aventura’s, North Miami remains the second most dangerous city in Miami-Dade County. According to the most recent statistics complied by City-data.com, only the City of Miami has a higher crime index.
By comparison, Aventura’s crime rate was ranked 272.3, considerably lower than North’s Miami’s.
Sorry, Lenny. North Miami is hardly Aventura.
So what is Chief Lenny’s response to crime?
You guessed it. A decoy truck.
The same decoy truck that did not prevent a NW 7th Avenue business from being robbed in broad daylight.
And one that is basically worthless except for the $6,000.00 in forfeiture funds he spent on a paint job.
Despite the incompetence, corruption and cronyism running rampant under the “leadership” of North Miami Police Chief Leonard Burgess, he’s been protected by an equally incompetent city manager, Aleem Ghany, and more recently by his buddy/partner in crime, the outgoing interim city manager, Arthur Sorey.
It’s now up to the incoming, and hopefully permanent, City Manager Larry Spring to take the helm and set North Miami’s ship on a new course.
After decades of corruption and ineffectual leadership at the police department and at City Hall, North Miami is sorely in need of a competent administrator who won’t put up with any more nonsense.
A strong City Manager who will finally – for once and for all – clean house.
North Miami residents deserve better!
“Spreading the Wealth”